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Mon, Jul 30, 2007

Young Eagle Moves Onto Next Phase

Building "Sabrina Mark One" For Father

by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas

Sabrina Pasterski has come a long way since ANN reported on the young lady’s Young Eagle flight with Jamail Larkins and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey at Oshkosh 2005.

Pasterski’s decided when she was very young she wanted to be an aerospace engineer. Pasterski reasoned she should learn to fly to help her reach her aerospace engineering goal. She started flying at age nine at Palwaukee Wings flying Cessna 172’s. For her 10th birthday her grandfather gifted her with an airplane. She now had a Cessna 150L.

John Fleming, Pasterski’s instructor from Palwaukee, began teaching her in the C150. FAA regulations prohibit solo flight prior to a student pilots 16th birthday. Pasterski would have been content to keep flying and solo at 16... until she tuned into David Letterman one evening.

One of Letterman’s segments starred Jamail Larkins, spokesperson for Careers in Aviation and Young Eagles and aerospace educator for the FAA. Larkins was performing aerobatics while being piped to the studio. During the segment, Larkins mentioned that he had started flying young and decided to head to Canada so he could solo at age 14.

This perked up the sleepy Pasterski... “Oh my goodness,” she thought.

Her parents agreed to take her from their home in Chicago to Canada on weekends and vacation for lessons. She started her lessons in London Ontario then switched to Huron Flight Center in Sarnia Ontario and flew with instructor Chantal Dale. Pasterski soloed on her 14th birthday in June and was doused with the obligatory bucket of water.

In 2005 Pasterski entered an essay contest sponsored by the Chicago Airport System. Jamail Larkins was Pasterski’s inspiration and subject of the African American Pioneers in Aviation Essay Contest. Pasterski chose Larkins because “he‘s my role model” Her essay was one of the winners.

“I was extremely honored. I found out through the FAA that she had entered a contest and had to write a short essay about one of her aviation heroes and she chose me.” Larkins said “That was extremely gratifying and humbling at the same time. It’s great to see that she was able to see something that I was able to do of accomplishing my dreams and that showed her that she could do it now instead of waiting until later.”

At Oshkosh 2005 Pasterski took her Young Eagles flight with Larkins and Blakey in an SR22 “It was just an amazing experience to be able to fly with him,” gushed Pasterski.

The project that Pasterski is working on currently is a homebuilt aircraft. She started the modified Zenith Zodiac CH-601XL, now called the Sabrina Mark 1 when she was 12. Her intent is to present it to her father for his birthday in October of this year. She has put in approximately 2,000 hours so far.

“My dad helps cleaning up so he has like 1,000 hours cleaning up,” joked Pasterski.

She has shared the experience with friends, showing them how to complete various tasks. “The best part about building the airplane is I get to teach others how to rivet and do other tests so I’ll have my friends over.” says Pasterski.

The EAA has also had a hand in helping “what’s great about the EAA is there is a whole network of builders. I was able to talk to other Zenith builders.”

Since Pasterski hopes to attend M.I.T. and bring her Cessna with her, the gift is designed to serve as transportation so her father can visit on weekends. Pasterski introduced her father to flying and the elder Pasterski began lessons “about a year or so after I started flying.” says Pasterski.

Pasterski chose the Zenith because only a few manufacturers didn’t have an issue with a 12 year old building their plane. The plane is also a pull rivet design which “is actually easier for me to build because driven rivets I don’t have the strength for.” Says Pasterski.

Pasterski has accumulated about 128 hours and will have many more in her logbook by the time she reaches 17 and is eligible for her Private Pilot license. She will also have one aircraft built and possibly more. “Designing spacecraft has always been my goal” says Pasterski “It would be cool to go beyond what we currently do.” She has taken some good first steps.



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